Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Charmed: Used Karma (6.13)

I mentioned it a couple of weeks back, but Charmed needs a radical resurgence of energy. Used Karma follows the exact same pattern as almost every other episode from this period, from the scenery-chewing villains and their doomed plans to kill the Halliwells, to one of the sisters getting possessed by some evil spirit. Even more specific tropes are getting repeated. How many times have we seen demons attacking the manor, injuring two of the sisters and kidnapping the third? There's a basic level of 'been there, done that' which has crept into nearly every corner of this show, and it's pretty shameful that none of the writers ever sat back and thought, "you know what, we can do something better".

There's also a lethargy that's pretty noticeable in the performances here. Alyssa Milano, parading around in some garish pink atrocity, seems entirely bored throughout and garbles all of her French lines. Holly, too, seems to be phoning it in. Although she is pregnant, so I guess she has an excuse. But this is Charmed on auto-pilot, everybody cashing their check and determined to project as little emotional investment as possible.

Used Karma sees the exit of Jason Dean, and while you understand his motives for leaving Phoebe, it's hard to actually give a damn. The fundamental ingredient that a TV relationship needs is some form of chemistry, or at least writing that manages to put across a real spark between two characters. So many of the sister's love interests in the later years only seemed there because the show thought Phoebe and Paige needed boyfriends. And while Jason's been around for a while, his and Phoebe's relationship has only ever been surface. They make out a lot and we're repeatedly told through dialogue how hot they are for each other, but there's so little depth it's embarrassing.

The same thing is happening with Richard and Paige. Despite the fact that it's being written as some huge relationship with Paige actually moving in with him, it still feels hollow -- the two of them not displaying any real chemistry or banter. And despite the weird 'magic addiction' thing, Richard himself remains a cipher.

Used Karma is another shit-show, one of the most obvious depictions of all of Charmed's recent problems. The Mata Hari story isn't fresh or interesting, the demons even less so, and all the performances and characters feel phony and tired. Nice work by Eric Dane, but even he can't salvage such a weak character. D-

Guest stars Balthazar Getty (Richard Montana); James Black (Swarm King); Eric Dane (Jason Dean)
Writer Jeannine Renshaw Director John Kretchmer


  1. I love what you said about Holly on autopilot. I really tear into her about it in my reviews, but I always try to give her an excuse, since her pregnancy obviously affected her. That being said, there's still a number of actresses who pulled off a solid performance and hidden their condition perfectly.

    I'd say a lot more, but I'll just leave it in my reviews for now ;)

  2. Right, but I think the material naturally inspires you when it's good material. It'd be hard for a pregnant woman to give a shit when she's been handed junk like Used Karma or Prince Charmed.

  3. I guess, but we know she can deliver regardless of the material. Maybe she's just following Rose's example?!